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Returning to work after giving birth can be a challenging time for new mothers, especially when trying to balance work and breastfeeding. There are many factors to consider, such as childcare, pumping, and balancing work and family life. One thing is for sure, planning your transition back to work will help you explore options so that you can find what works best to meet your needs.
Importance of Planning for the Transition
Returning to work after birth requires planning and preparation, especially for breastfeeding mothers. It’s important to start thinking about the transition well in advance, and to consider factors such as childcare arrangements, work schedules, and breastfeeding or pumping needs. You’ll be able to ensure a smoother transition back to work and reduce stress and anxiety.
Tips for Returning to Work After Birth and Breastfeeding
Establish a pumping routine
If you plan to breastfeed or pump breast milk, establish a pumping routine that works for you and communicate your needs with your employer and caregiver. This can include scheduling breaks throughout the day for pumping or finding a private space to pump.
Invest in a high-quality breast pump
Consider investing in a high-quality breast pump that’s easy to use and portable. This will allow you to pump breast milk at work or on-the-go, and ensure that your baby has access to breast milk when you’re not together. Keep in mind that portable breast pumps often do not yield as much breastmilk as a traditional breast pump, so make sure to test them out before you start having to rely on it.
Communicate with your employer
Talk to your employer about your plans for returning to work and any accommodations you may need, such as flexible hours or a private space for pumping breast milk. Under the Affordable Care Act, most employers are required to provide a private space for pumping and reasonable break time for nursing mothers.
Find the right childcare
Research and visit childcare options to find the best fit for you and your baby. We all get worried when putting our children in the care of a stranger, but not everyone has a bunch of outside help. Make sure you feel comfortable with the person who will be taking care of your baby. Some childcare centers have live cameras and smart phone apps that let you track your child’s care during the day. Childcare can also be a hefty expense, so make sure you factor that into your budget before returning to work.
Take care of yourself
Returning to work after birth and breastfeeding can be emotionally and physically draining. Make sure to prioritize self-care, such as getting enough sleep, exercise, and healthy meals. After both babies, I made sure my freezer was stocked with croc pot freezer meals. I was able to provide a healthy dinner for my family while transitioning back to a work-life balance without taking too much time out of my day after work.
Balancing Work and Breastfeeding
Balancing work and breastfeeding can be a challenge, but it’s important to find a balance that works for you and your family. You will want to try to pump every 2-3 hours, or as often as your baby feeds. Most breastfeeding babies nurse on demand with no set schedule, so this process of moving to a bottle will also help you establish a schedule at home or in the hands of another caretaker.
Pumping during work
Try to pump as much as possible during work to maintain your milk supply and provide breast milk for your baby when you’re not together. This may be challenging for some, but it is required by federal law for employers to provide a private location and ample time for breastfeeding mothers to pump. Consider a wearable pump for pumping at work, and a small cooler. Even though employers are supposed to have a place to store breastmilk, I find I would rather it be put away in my own cooler in a private space.
Pumping in the middle of the night
Though not ideal, pumping in the middle of the night as your little one starts to sleep through it is a very effective way to build and maintain breastmilk supply. Sometimes you wont always have the luxury of pumping every 2-3 hours like we are all told to, this can help maintain your breastmilk stash without taking extra time from your awake hours.
Storing breast milk
Learn how to properly store breast milk to ensure its freshness and safety.
Building up a freezer stash
Consider building up a freezer stash of breast milk to have on hand for emergencies or to ease the transition back to work. I believe that the basic rule of thumb is to have enough milk for one full day of breastfeeding when you go back to work, and try to pump that much while you are at work that day. Many moms find building a stash challenging because they are not able to keep their breastfeeding supply up. This article talks all about breastfeeding supply and breaks down how exactly you can support your breastfeeding journey as you transition to a breast pump.
Communicating with your caregiver
Communicate with your caregiver about your breastfeeding and pumping routine, and provide them with enough breast milk for your baby’s needs.
Returning to work after giving birth and breastfeeding can be a challenging time for new mothers, but with planning, preparation, and the right support, it can be a smooth transition. Make sure you consider factors such as childcare arrangements, work schedules, and breastfeeding or pumping needs. It’ll be challenging, but soon a routine can reduce stress and anxiety to find a balance between work and motherhood. Remember to prioritize self-care, communicate with your employer and caregiver, and ask for help when needed.